UKIP Uncovered
What motivates the leaders of the United Kingdom Independence Party?

Wednesday, April 30, 2003 

Should UKIP’s MEPs Stand Again?

Before the last European election there was some debate in the party as to whether or not UKIP should send MEPs to Brussels and Strasbourg. The financial benefits that have flowed back to the party seem to have convinced those originally against the idea of its merits. The present dispute within the party over candidate selection for the 2004 European Parliament cannot be entirely separated from the individual privileges seen to be enjoyed by those elected.

So while there is clearly no interest in holding a debate on whether or not to field UKIP candidates in June 2004 a more significant and important question seems to have been overlooked, namely should sitting MEPs who have enjoyed all the benefits of one term of office be allowed to stand for re-election?

The philosophical position that we sent them to Brussels to seek Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and if they have made no progress in that direction after one term in office it would seem unlikely they would succeed in two or more terms is powerful. Even more so is the danger that the comforts of the lifestyle enjoyed by the MEPs might become an end in themselves thus converting our representatives into closet Euro-federalists.

On the other side of the argument is the clear fact that the higher profile gained as a result of their MEP name tag, and funds available from the EDD which can be used for massaging constituents between elections clearly give sitting MEPs greater celebrity than most newcomers and hence an increased chance of re-election.

The party list system employed in the European Parliamentary electoral system, however, puts the ballot onto a ‘Party’ rather than a “Personality’ basis, which considerably weakens the latter argument.

In a situation where UKIP had enjoyed the most fantastically able sitting MEPs, who had worked tirelessly for the Party and been responsible for the recruitment of many new, mainly young, but all enthusiastic members AND who had also advanced the UKIP cause by arguing and debating long and often with the ablest members of the pro-European and federalist forces AND who had made many able and frequent contributions to the national media THEN a strong case could be made that such sitting members should be placed no higher than third on any regional list.

The benefits should be obvious, the celebrity gained as a result of having had the support of the party in gaining initial membership would be re-invested in propelling two new candidates into the Brussels Parliament with the added bonus of the sitting MEP having an outside chance of re-election.

If UKIP gained only one or two MEPs in that region then the ex-MEP would be a perfect high profile individual raring to regain office which would then most logically be found in a Westminster constituency which, after all, should be our ultimate goal. If a general election seemed far away then a high profile by-election might provide an even better platform for his entry to the House of Commons

Unhappily UKIP has not had sitting MEPs who exactly meet the description above. Thus they are scrabbling to be lead candidates in their original regions, apparently more intent on retaining their MEP benefits than bringing new colleagues to the fight.

In fact the impact of the internet which was briefly discussed in the earlier post on this site today, will most likely be used by our opponents to make their re-election and all those candidates beneath them on their regional lists practically impossible. The damage is unlikely to be confined to those regions alone as other outstanding candidates with unblemished records and no backlog of adverse press comment lying around at the click of a mouse, will also suffer as the UKIP Party name is dragged through the mud.

A rule change restricting sitting MEPs to a ranking of Number Three or lower in the Regional Party lists is obviously not feasible at this late stage. The postal ballot now underway, however, gives this power to the ordinary members by individual action and we commend the idea to you.

posted by Martin |8:39 AM
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